End of Third-Party Cookies: How To Collect Zero-Party and First-Party Data

7 min to read

As a marketer for an ecommerce brand or other business, you may have read that third-party cookies are being phased out because of privacy concerns. This has prompted a shift in the way brands collect and utilize data. As major browsers have phased out support, digital marketing strategies have had to include first-party and zero-party data. These types of data allow for personalized and privacy-conscious approaches.

Let’s take a detailed look at how the end of third-party cookies will affect digital marketing, as well as how you can collect first-party and zero-party data to create personalized marketing efforts for your brand.

Table of Contents:

The End Of Third-Party Cookies


What Is a Third-Party Cookie?

A third-party cookie is a small piece of data stored in a user’s web browser by a domain other than the one they are currently visiting. When you visit a website, you might see ads, social media buttons, or videos from other websites, also known as third-party domains. These elements are commonly found on websites and can set cookies in your browser. The cookies then track your activities across other websites.

These cookies are commonly used for tracking and advertising purposes, allowing third-party entities, such as advertisers or analytics providers, to monitor users’ online behavior across different websites.

How Were Third Party Cookies Used In Advertising?

For online advertising, third-party cookies played a pivotal role in targeting and personalizing ads. Advertisers could leverage these cookies to gather insights into users’ preferences, interests, and online activities. This enabled the delivery of more relevant and targeted ads, contributing to a more personalized user experience.

Why Are Third-Party Cookies Going Away?

The decline of third-party cookies is primarily driven by heightened concerns over user privacy and increased regulatory scrutiny. As users became more aware of data privacy issues, there was a growing demand for increased transparency and control over how their online information is collected and used.

Additionally, privacy regulations, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the evolving landscape of digital privacy standards, have pushed major browsers like Safari, Firefox, and Chrome to phase out support for third-party cookies. This shift aims to enhance user privacy by limiting cross-site tracking and prompting the industry to explore alternative methods for personalized advertising that prioritize user consent and data protection.

First-Party Data


What is First-Party Data?

First-party data refers to the information that a brand collects from its visitors and customers as they use your brand’s owned channels, such as websites, mobile apps, social media accounts, and email subscriptions. First-party data is considered the most valuable and reliable type of data as it comes directly from individuals who have willingly engaged with the brand.

First-Party Data Examples:


1. Website Analytics:

Website analytics is a prime example of first-party data as it involves tracking user interactions directly on a brand’s website. Information such as page views, click-through rates, and user behavior is collected, providing valuable insights for personalized marketing strategies.

2. Email Subscriptions:

When a visitor signs up for an email subscription, they are willingly providing their contact information, preferences, and consent to receive communications from a brand. This forms a direct and valuable relationship for personalized marketing efforts.

3. Purchase History:

Purchase history includes details about products or services a customer has bought, providing valuable insights into individual preferences, buying behavior, and enabling personalized marketing strategies based on past transactions.

4. Social Media Engagement Data:

Social media engagement data encompassing user interactions such as likes, shares, comments, and direct messages on a brand’s social platforms. These insights aid in understanding audience preferences and tailoring personalized content for effective engagement strategies.

How to Collect First-Party Data:


1. Implement Cookies on Your Website:

Use first-party cookies to collect information about user behavior on your website. Once implemented, you can look at website analytics to track user interactions, analyze page views, and understand visitor behavior. This data helps you create personalized experiences and enhance marketing strategies based on user engagement insights.

2. Leverage Sign-Up Forms:

By encouraging users to sign up for newsletters, memberships, or accounts, you gather valuable information directly from them, including contact details and preferences, forming the basis for personalized communication and targeted marketing efforts.

3. Analyze Email Subscriptions:

By examining user preferences, behaviors, and interaction patterns with newsletters or promotional emails, your brand can build detailed profiles. This data becomes a foundation for personalized marketing strategies, fostering stronger connections with the audience based on their explicit preferences.

4. Utilize Social Media Engagement:

Analyze likes, shares, comments, and direct messages to understand audience preferences. This data provides valuable insights for personalized marketing strategies, enhancing the user experience and fostering stronger connections through targeted content and engagement efforts.

Zero-Party Data


What is Zero-Party Data?

Zero-party data is explicitly shared by customers with a brand, often through surveys, preference centers, or other direct interactions. Unlike first-party data, which is observed through customer actions, zero-party data is willingly provided by the customers themselves. This data is incredibly valuable as it reflects customer preferences, interests, and intentions, offering a deeper understanding of individual needs.

Zero-Party Data Examples:


1. Preference Centers:

Through interactive preference centers, customers explicitly share preferences, interests, and communication choices. This self-reported data improves personalization and strengthens the brand-consumer relationship based on informed and explicit choices.

2. Surveys and Questionnaires:

Customers voluntarily share insights, preferences, and opinions, offering brands direct and explicit information. This self-reported data enhances personalization efforts and strengthens the brand-consumer relationship based on informed choices.

3. Direct Customer Feedback:

Customers voluntarily express opinions, suggestions, and experiences, offering brands valuable insights into their preferences. This self-reported information enhances personalization and allows brands to tailor experiences based on authentic customer input.

How to Collect Zero-Party Data:


1. Loyalty Programs

Loyalty programs are a powerful avenue to collect zero-party data. Customers willingly share preferences and habits as they engage with the program, providing brands with valuable insights for personalized rewards and tailored experiences.

2. Interactive Content:

Interactive content engages users through dynamic experiences, such as quizzes, polls, games, and surveys. It encourages active participation, enabling brands to collect valuable zero-party data as users willingly share preferences, opinions, and insights, fostering a deeper understanding of their audience.

3. Preference Centers:

By providing users with interactive platforms to specify their preferences, interests, and communication choices voluntarily, brands can gather valuable self-reported information, enhancing personalization and strengthening customer relationships.

4. Surveys and Questionnaires:

Collecting zero-party data through surveys and questionnaires involves designing thoughtful inquiries to obtain users’ voluntary opinions, preferences, and insights. By encouraging active participation, brands can gather valuable self-reported data and enhance personalization strategies based on direct user input.

What is Second-Party Data?

While focusing on first-party and zero-party data, it’s worth mentioning second-party data. This type of data is essentially someone else’s first-party data that is shared with your brand through a partnership or arrangement. It involves a direct agreement between two parties, often in a transparent and mutually beneficial manner.

Brands can explore second-party data partnerships to augment their understanding of the customer base and expand their targeting capabilities.

The Future for Brands: Focus on Personalization


Collect First-Party Data

Collecting first-party data should be a priority for brands looking to personalize their marketing efforts. This involves tracking user behavior on owned channels, such as websites and mobile apps, and utilizing this data to understand customer preferences.

Use CRM Tools

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools are invaluable for organizing and managing first-party data. These tools enable brands to create detailed customer profiles, track interactions, and personalize communication based on individual preferences.

Use Contextual Advertising

With the decline of third-party cookies, contextual advertising is gaining prominence. This approach involves placing ads based on the context of the content rather than relying on user data. By aligning ads with the content context, brands can reach their target audience effectively.

Create Quality Content

High-quality, relevant content is a powerful tool for engaging audiences and encouraging them to share zero-party data willingly. Content that adds value to users’ lives can foster trust and motivate users to provide information about their preferences and interests.

Use Privacy-First Personalization Technology

Investing in privacy-first personalization technology ensures that brands can deliver personalized experiences while respecting user privacy. Technologies that prioritize user consent and comply with data protection regulations are essential for building and maintaining trust.

Frequently Asked Questions


Q: What is the significance of the end of third-party cookies?

The end of third-party cookies is significant as it limits the ability of advertisers to track users across different websites for targeted advertising. This shift necessitates a focus on collecting first-party and zero-party data for personalized marketing.

Q: How can brands collect first-party data?

Brands can collect first-party data by implementing cookies on their websites, leveraging sign-up forms, conducting customer surveys, and monitoring social media engagement.

Q: What is the difference between first-party data and zero-party data?

First-party data is observed through user actions on owned channels (websites, apps, social media accounts), while zero-party data is explicitly shared by customers through surveys, preference centers, or interactive content.

Q: How can brands use CRM tools for personalization?

CRM tools enable brands to organize and manage first-party data effectively. Brands can create detailed customer profiles, track interactions, and personalize communication based on individual preferences.

Q: What is contextual advertising?

Contextual advertising involves placing ads based on the context of the content rather than relying on user data. It aligns ads with the content context to reach the target audience effectively.

Contact COLAB Los Angeles for Marketing and Data Collection Strategies

As your brand navigates the post-third-party cookie era, the focus on collecting first-party and zero-party data is now a priority. Contact COLAB Los Angeles for implementing effective marketing strategies your brand can use to deliver personalized and relevant experiences to your audience.

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